See Santa and friends at the Long Island Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the Aquarium
See Santa and friends at the Long Island Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the Aquarium

30 Things to Do Over Holiday Break with Long Island Kids

School vacation can be intimidating for parents. With holiday break on the horizon, you're staring down an entire week-plus of unstructured time. To help fill the void, we've rounded up 30 holiday break activities for Long Island families from lingering must-do holiday events to visiting longtime favorite destinations, enjoying one-time events, or planning a little escape.

If you want to stay in, we've found some great any-day Zoom activities for kids and grandparents, plus fun games kids can play virtually with friends, and all the best online holiday events for families.

For most Long Island kids, Christmas break runs from Thursday, December 24, 2020, through Sunday, January 3, 2021. You can find even more Long Island happenings on our Event Calendar.

Editor's note: While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and maintaining appropriate social distancing. If you arrive at an event that appears too crowded, try using the “nearby” search feature on our Event Calendar to find something else to do. Be sure to click through to each venue's website for full details, including price and reservation requirements.

65 Elm Avenue Christmas House decorations Things to Do Over Holiday Break with Long Island Kids
Take a drive to see some over-the-top houses like this one at 65 Elm Avenue in Coram. Photo courtesy of the house

Holiday Happenings to Enjoy Over Winter Break

1. Throw the kids in the car, pack some snacks, and hit the road to visit some of these spectacular home holiday light displays before they go dark.

2. Schedule a time to get your last-minute gift requests in and snap a socially distant Santa picture before he flies off for final Christmas preparations.

3. Visit Bayville Winter Wonderland to meet Santa, ride the holiday train, enjoy some arts and crafts, and check out the arctic skating rink. There is also a Christmas tree forest, ax-throwing (dads will dig this!), and rock-climbing. Bonus: Most attractions are outdoors, and holiday movies show at the drive-in each weekend beginning at 6pm.

RELATED: Must-Do Holiday Events and Christmas Light Drive-Thrus on Long Island For 2020

The Magic of Lights Things to Do Over Holiday Break with Long Island Kids
For a COVID-safe experience, drive through the Magic of Lights. Photo courtesy of the Magic of Lights

4. Gawk at the Magic of Lights drive-thru spectacular at Jones Beach.

5. See the dazzling lights, amazing vignettes, and holiday scenes at the Smith Point Light Show, a 1.5-mile trail of lights put on by the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County.

RELATED: Guide to Holiday and Christma Events for Long Island Families

The Christmas House Things to Do Over Holiday Break with Long Island Kids
The Christmas House brings seasonal cheer to life. Photo courtesy of the venue

6. Immerse yourself in the Christmas season at The Christmas House, an interactive walkthrough experience where guests explore a Christmas-themed wonderland.

7. Ring in the New Year with a kid-friendly countdown and family-friendly New Year's Eve activities at Bayville Winter Wonderland, or celebrate with the Long Island Aquarium's Fishes & Wishes party. Catch a fireworks show along the Peconic Riverfront afterward.

8. For a virtual New Year's Eve celebration, participate in a "Noon" Year's Eve virtual ball drop sponsored by California's Chabot Space & Science Center. Attendees even receive a special STEM Kit via mail, so you must pre-register by Monday, December 14!

RELATED: Restaurants Open for Christmas Dinner and Takeout on Long Island

Visit the LICM over winter break to see GingerBread Lane
GingerBread Lane brings a huge confectionary cityscape to the Long Island Children's Museum. Photo courtesy of the venue.

Kid-Friendly Destinations to Visit on Holiday Break

9. There's always something interesting to see at the Long Island Children's Museum, and we're especially excited about its GingerBread Lane exhibit. Purchase your tickets in advance.

10. The Long Island Aquarium is the perfect place to visit during the holiday break. Feed the otters, interact with insects, or enjoy the gorgeous fish displays. Book your tickets in advance.

11. Check out the Cradle of Aviation Museum, which welcomes back its popular Arcade Age exhibit Saturday, December 26.

12. If you're looking for a little indoor fun for the family, hit the lanes ... the bowling lanes, that is, at these alleys in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

13. Brrrr, baby, it's cold outside. Warm up with some of the best hot cocoa spots on Long Island.

RELATED: Holiday Volunteer Opportunities for Long Island Kids in 2020

Glide across Christopher Morely Ice Rink during the holiday break
The rink at Christopher Morley Park has delighted skaters since 1961. Photo by LMRose Photography

Outdoor Destinations to Visit During Holiday Break

14. Lace up your skates and hit the ice at these outdoor rinks.

15. Explore the North Shore from Port Washington to Port Jefferson.

16. Go for a stunning beach walk along our picturesque shorelines.

17. Get up-close with nature at one of these local nature centers.

RELATED: Virtual Holiday Events in December

If you're staying in, set up a virtual cookie decorating day with family over winter break
Set up a cookie decorating challenge via Zoom. Photo by Jody Mercier

Online and At-Home Fun For Winter Break

18. Peruse our list of 12 Christmas traditions, holiday activities, and Zoom ideas to start at home in 2020.

19. Pick up a gingerbread house or cookie kit from Riverhead's Gingerbread University, then go home and construct your masterpiece. Be sure to pre-order.

20. Plan a holiday-themed movie night with hot cocoa, popcorn, and cozy blankets.

21. Set up a home-based art studio and try one of these boredom-busting crafts.

22. If the weather outside is frightful, consider one of these indoor activities.

RELATED: Holiday Windows Walk: See Midtown Manhattan's Iconic 2020 Christmas Displays

rockefeller center tree lighting Things to Do Over Holiday Break with Long Island Kids
Make a trip to the city the see the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Photo by Sara M.

Day Trips and Getaways to Plan For Winter Break

23. Day trip into NYC to check out the Rockefeller Center tree or visit the Winter Village at Bryant Park.

24. Flit off to one of these family-friendly Northeast ski mountains to beat the cabin fever.

25. Book a weekend getaway nearby.

Enjoy LuminoCity Festival during the holiday break with Long Island Kids
Explore the colorful, larger-than-life lanterns at LuminoCity, which illuminates Randall's Island through January 10, 2021. Photo by Jody Mercier

26. LuminoCity Fest returns to Randall's Island this holiday season, bringing with it a brand new theme and never-before-seen art installations that cover 10 acres of parkland.

27. Bundle up and take a day trip to a nearby snow tubing spot.

28. Pretend it's summer and splash away at these indoor water parks.

29. Spend a day on the other side of the Long Island Sound exploring Mystic, Connecticut.

Last But Not Least...

30. Still looking for something to do? Try checking off one of the bucket-list items on our 100 things to do on Long Island with kids.

This article was originally posted in 2017. It has been updated for 2020.

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